If you’ve lived in the New York City metropolitan area long enough, you may remember when West Nile virus was first detected locally during the summers of 1999 and 2000. Despite efforts to control mosquitoes and to protect the public, more confirmed cases occur each year.
Unfortunately, disease-carrying mosquitoes breed rapidly. Scientists say that one female mosquito can lay approximately 300 eggs in a teaspoon of water. Any amount of standing water can lead to flourishing mosquito populations. These are a few areas that harbor mosquito eggs and larvae.
- Bird baths
- Kiddie pools
- HVAC drains
- Barbeque grills
- Dense vegetation
- Flower pots
- Trash cans
- Old tires
Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance; they can carry disease! West Nile Virus is the most common disease spread by these pests, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Also, West Nile Virus is transmitted to pets and other domestic animals bitten by infected mosquitoes. West Nile Virus prevention begins with you learning more about this infectious disease, and how to effectively control mosquitoes around your home.
What is West Nile Virus?
Mosquitoes began transmitting West Nile Virus in the U.S. around 1999. The virus was first found in humans living in the New York area, but it has since spread across the entire United States. Mosquitoes contract the virus when they bite birds infected with the disease. Birds can become infected through mosquito bites as well. Some birds, like hawks, owls, and other scavengers, can contract the virus from eating other dead birds.
Most birds that contract the virus live, but some birds, like jays and crows, often die. There is no evidence that people can contract West Nile Virus from birds, but as a precautionary measure, never touch or dispose of dead birds without wearing gloves.
Mosquitoes transmit the virus when they feed on you. Female mosquitoes are the biters. They need a blood meal to help them produce their eggs. Mosquitoes have skin-piercing mouth parts that inject a tiny amount of saliva into your skin before drawing out blood. The saliva helps prevent clotting, so the mosquito can easily draw out your blood. This mixing of saliva and blood is what transfers West Nile Virus to humans.
Incubation Period for West Nile Virus?
Once bitten by an infected mosquito, people can begin to show symptoms in as little as two days, but it can take up to 2 weeks, according to the CDC. Only about one out of every five people bitten by a West Nile mosquito actually show symptoms, like a fever, but it is important to know what symptoms to watch for. About one percent of people bitten develop a severe reaction that can lead to West Nile Fever, which has long-lasting symptoms:
- And other signs of brain damage